Short dam controlled run between a couple of reservoirs.
Check out descriptions at
Wheels and Water
This stretch is generally done in the Summer at either 1 or 2 units.
1 unit is usually between 1,000-2,000 cfs
2 units is usually 2,500-4,000 cfs.
Check out this gauge (third graph down) or this other one and try to figure out what the schedule is. It often releases in the evening, so after work runs are practical. You can also try calling the dam operators to get the release schedule.
If it is all a big headache, try getting in touch with a local boater, someone will probably know what the deal is. Eugene Kayaker on Facebook is a good bet.
There is a short walk in along a road to a gate and fence. A steep fisherman's trail to the right of the fence leads down to the river.
The run starts off as moving flat water and builds towards class III as it reaches the three named rapids 1.4 miles after putting on. This warm up section has many dynamic eddies, small pour-overs for boof practice and some surf spots, contributing to some of the features that make this a good summertime training run.
The named rapids come in quick succession and can all be scouted along the right bank of the river. First up is Swiss Cheese (III-III+), which is most often run center/right. Below is a large pool before Scrawley's Wall (III-IV), which is usually entered on the left, moving back to center after a large pour-over in the middle of the river. Take care not to get pushed into the left wall. At some flows there are surf waves in the runout here, but again, that left wall is a concern and Concussion is not far downstream so make sure you trust your roll before surfing these waves.
A fast moving stretch of water separates Scrawley's Wall from Concussion (class IV). Be mindful of a hazardous sieve in the center of the rapid near the top. Because of this sieve, most boaters choose to enter Concussion along the right bank, driving hard back to center behind the rock separating the center and right channels in order to avoid a decent sized hydraulic along the bank (this hydraulic can be cleared with speed and a strong stroke, but has also surfed its fair share of boaters). There are a few more notable hydraulics near the bottom of the rapid, none would hold a swimmer but flips are not uncommon. There is a final rock in the center of the rapid most boaters go right of as the current enters what is usually the slack water of Foster Reservoir. Boaters looking to further their skill-set will find it possible to paddle back up into the hydraulics at the base of Concussion where some exciting surfing, ferrying, and attaining options are available. It's a relatively safe place to push oneself, because of it's position just above the reservoir.
A number of alternate lines present themselves in all the rapids, a multitude of eddies and interesting currents make slalom style paddling enjoyable. If you are a local this is probably the best whitewater available close by in the late summer and as you learn the river new lines will present themselves and if that becomes too mundane this run is conducive to playboating. Its short length means many laps can be had, the walk in and short scramble to the river are a good way to become comfortable with a boat on your shoulder. All around, a great summertime training run for Willamette Valley boaters.
Directions: Take I-5 to Hwy 20 East to Sweet Home. About 5 miles East of Sweet Home turn North onto Quartzville Rd.
You will cross a couple bridges and shortly be paralleling what is typically a flat river (when Foster Reservoir is low it may be flowing class I-II).
2.8 miles after turning onto Quartzville Rd, pull over onto the shoulder on the side of the road opposite the river, this is the take out and there is a short trail leading to a small bedrock protrusion that marks the take out from the water, mind the poison oak (avoidable most years).
If you start climbing away from the stream on the road you have passed the take out.
1.5 miles upstream of the take out a paved road goes off to the right, it can sneak up on you. Park here (do not block the gate) and walk about half a mile down to a gate and fence within site of the dam. Go to the right of the fence and follow a steep fisherman's trail to the river.
Put in parking: 44.4442, -122.5591
Take out parking: 44.4381, -122.5879
3 years ago
by Priscilla Macy
by clinton begley
Call Foster Dam. Schedule usually available 2 days in advance.
Flows are descibed in the description.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
on Santiam, Middle @2. Green Peter Dam to Foster Reservoir
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